Sifelani? Understanding South African Structural Violence

This is copied from my comrade Jackie Shandu’s Facebook post dated 05/08/2019, it clearly elucidates the problem of violence in South Africa.

There’s a strong correlation between poverty and violence in South Afrika. The 10 most dangerous/violent places in South Afrika, in terms of S.A. Crime Stats, are: 1. Jhb central; 2. 3. Nyanga; 4. Mitchells Plain; 5. Hilbrow; 6. Kagiso; 7. Khayelitsha; 8. Dobsonville; 9. Umlazi; 9. Inanda; and 10. Delft.

These are all low-income- high unemployment urban and peri-urban areas. One could write an entire thesis labouring the point. It’s shocking but unsurprising to observe that neither mainstream(pro-establishment) activists nor politicians have cared to highlight this aspect of the reality of general structural violence and specific Gender Based Violence.

This is not to suggest that poverty wholly accounts for the scourge of structural violence- which South Afrika has struggled with since 1652. Neither does it imply that violence, in its various forms, does not find expression in affluent, high-income middle to upper class communities. Far from it. What is, however, beyond dispute is that Afrikan Communities, because of their abject poverty, high unemployment and complete underdevelopment, are disproportionately vulnerable to all forms of violence. Poverty itself is social violence.

What is utterly disappointing with SA’s popular conception of and reaction to violence, is it’s unscientific, unintelligent and fatally flawed nature. The dominant attitude is that violence is not generally structural- embedded in the design and daily reality of South Afrikan political, social and economic life.

Violence is largely conceived of as a bad habit that needs to be unlearned, hence the lousy shout of corrupt politicians to “stop femicide”, “stop GBV” when these same wicked scoundrels all agree that all branches of government must continue with the exclusive 1652 mandate of advancing and protecting structural white wealth accumulation which is at the same time and in the opposite direction structural Afrikan poverty creation and deepening.

Integrity-deficient native politicians are assisted in their ultra evil enterprise by activists who, for a wide variety of reasons, naively think it plausible to specialize in activism against ONE form of violence in an environment of STRUCTURAL/SYSTEMIC violence. Unethical and shockingly ignorant. Can never yield results. Again this is not to say people must not prioritize causes much closer to their hearts. All we are emphasizing is that we are either all free or nobody is. Put differently, the struggles, against Racism, Classism, Patriarchy, Ecological catastrophe et al converge and coalesce into thee struggle against white-racist capitalist system of South AfriKKKa.

Malcolm X once poignantly stated, ” you can’t have capitalism without racism”. He was 100% correct, save to say he could have added that you can’t have capitalism without patriarchy, women oppression, environmental degradation and so on and so forth. Without a decisive victory which uproots the current structure of the economy and the architecture and application of the (Roman-Dutch) law, we the dispossessed will never taste liberty and freedom.

But let’s be brutally honest. Even in terms of contemporary immoral capitalist standards, South Afrika, in terms of general violence and its Gender&Intimate Partner aspects, is the pits- to employ popular parlance. Why? It’s the violence buried in our minds, souls and spirits, inherited from the pre 1994 period of state-generated barbaric violence meted out to men, women and children alike. A violence for which the white colonial-settler community has never been made to own up to, let alone be held accountable. When whites were not themselves raiding Afrikan communites with machine guns and brutalizing young and old they were funding and arming Gatsha’s Zulu Police and secret militias to terrorize and murder on a grand scale. There was never healing. The trauma lives inside us. Yet whites and the ANC are allowed to characterize the transition from pre 1994 to post 1994 as a miraculous and bloodless revolution. The blood of the hundreds of thousands of Afrikan martyrs which paved the way to the current underwhelming sellout Democratic mess of the ANC will one day speak. It speaks everyday. We just don’t listen, and do not hear.

Brute force, organized violece: WAR has historically been the terrain of the masculine gender. In most precolonial Afrikan societies, war was strictly the business of men, to the exclusion of women, children, the disabled, ill and the elderly. South Afrika’s wars against white colonial land dispossession were affairs of male warriors under Sekhukhune, Bhambatha, Hintsa to name but a few. The liberation armies of Umkhonto weSizwe and Azanian Peoples Liberation Army were overwhelmingly dominated by men. The gangs of the past and today who engage in senseless, sadistic violence are constituted by men. I can labour the point even further but the essence of it is that, historically and in the present, capitalist gendered social formation/organization dictates that male children, boys and men will be instantly inducted, conditioned and socialized into violence one way or another. This reality accounts for the disproportionate internalization and application of (various forms of) violence by the male gender. Before charlatans get excited, this is a brief sociological analysis of the causes, avenues and materiality of violence- not a JUSTIFICATION thereof.

Extreme commodification of social relations in South Afrika, directly as a result of the ultra neoliberal capitalist order proudly imposed&driven by Thabo Mbeki and now inherited by Cyril&Tito, which placed South Afrika at top of the global list of the most unequal societies in terms of wealth&income, has resulted in domination, ownership and control mediating especially romantic relationships: I SPEND MONEY ON YOU THEREFORE I OWN YOU AND CAN HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR BODY WHENEVER I WANT TO DESPITE YOUR PROTESTATIONS TO THE CONTRARY. This has fueled the phenomenon commonly referred to as rape culture more than anything I can imagine.

Will women and men of the highest moral standing and finest intellectual capabilities step up and and compel us to have very difficult, brutally honest and very necessary nuanced conversations? Rage, emotions, protest have their place but solutions presuppose critical thinking and utmost intellectual integrity. Something we are evidently not going to get from politicians, certainly not from the ruling party. The system is irreparably broken!!!!

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